Return to work (and pump anywhere) with Willow

The ultimate guide to returning to work and pumping away from baby.

Whether you’re returning to work or just starting to carve out more time for yourself, pumping away from baby requires a lot of prep — and even more gear.

The transition isn’t without its challenges (and all the feels), so it’s important to have a plan. Below, we’re going through everything from how to prep to which products you’ll need, plus reminding you of the rights you have as a pumping mom at work.

Part I: The Prep

How to wrap your head around the transition and settle into your new routine.

Expect (and accept!) emotions

No matter what your parenting (and feeding) journey has looked like so far, returning to work will likely be accompanied by lots of emotions. The good news: resources exist to help support you as you navigate the transition.

Practice your new routine in advance

A little prep can go a long way — whether that means giving your commute a trial run, going through the process of getting your stored breast milk into bottles, or packing your baby’s diaper bag to make sure you’ve got everything you need.

Get more tips in the comprehensive guide we created with the moms (and our friends) at Mother Honestly.

Part II: The Pumps

When to start pumping and what to keep in mind as you establish and maintain your milk supply.

How to pick a breast pump

A hands-free, double electric breast pump will give you the freedom you need to pump no matter where your work day takes you. Moms who work in fields like education, healthcare, emergency response, or military may need a pump that offers 360° of leak proof mobility, while others will prioritize a pump that’s high comfort and high capacity.

When to start pumping

If you’ve been exclusively breastfeeding, we recommend starting at least two weeks before you head back to work. Start with 7 to 14 sessions per week so you can start building a stash* and get comfortable with your pump.

*Babies under 6 months old will usually need ~1 oz per hour while you’re apart; babies over 6 months old may need a bit more, but it depends on their solids intake!


Part III: The Products

Essentials for pumping on the go, keeping your breast milk safe, introducing baby to bottle, and more.

Transportation and mobility

Pump on the go with a hands-free, leak-free, app connected pump — and store your milk safely with a breast milk cooler that keeps milk at a safe temperature while you’re away from baby. Shop Willow 3.0, Willow Go, and our new Portable Breast Milk Cooler designed to keep up to 16 oz of milk at a safe temp for up to 24 hours.

Sanitizing and storage

Pumping on the go calls for cleaning on the go. We’ve got what you need to get your parts ready for your next session — whether you’re at the office or on your way to drop off. Shop Dapple Baby and Stasher bags.

Comfort and output

Three ways to set a strong pumping foundation? A snug but stretchy bra (a must for strong suction!), lactation teas filled with milk-supporting herbs, and spray that’s designed to moisturize and soothe skin — because nobody wants to pump through pain.

Introducing baby to bottle

Certain slow-flow bottles make it easier for babies to transition from the breast — because nobody has time for a bottle strike while they’re getting ready to return to work. Shop Comotomo and mōmi bottles designed to imitate nursing, reduce nipple confusion, and reduce gassiness and discomfort.

Willow 360™ Wearable Breast Pump

Willow 360™ Wearable Breast Pump

Willow 360 is designed with a zero-gravity latch to give you 360° of leak-proof mobility. It's the hands-free breast pump that changed the game.

Willow Go™ Wearable Breast Pump

Willow Go™ Wearable Breast Pump

With hospital-grade suction and a 100% comfort rating, Willow Go pumps quietly and discreetly (no dangling tubes, bottles, or external motors) so you can do it all.

Part IV: The Protections

What to know about the PUMP Act and your rights at the office (and beyond). 

The PUMP Act, passed in December of 2022, has gone into effect. It’s the first time that legislation supporting mothers’ feeding journeys has made its way through Congress since 2010 —and it’s a major moment for working moms.

We’ve partnered with the team at SimpliFed, Willow's trusted lactation consultant provider network offering moms virtual, judgment-free breastfeeding and baby feeding support, to give you the facts and resources you need to advocate for yourself (and your baby) on the job. 


Part V: The Schedule

How to schedule pumping into your workday — and strategies for making the transition as seamless as possible.

Your pumping schedule will depend on a lot — your let-down periods, the amount of milk to pump during a single session, how much milk you want to store while you’re away from baby, and more. Plus, external factors (like your commute time and the sort of work you do) will play a role!

Sticking to a schedule is key, since it will allow you to maintain the supply that you’ve established (whether you’ve been exclusively pumping, pumping and nursing, or combo feeding). Check out some of our suggested schedules below!


Get dressed with Armoire

Get dressed with Armoire

Find breastfeeding-friendly clothes that fit and give you confidence with a subscription to Armoire. Each delivery comes with 4, 6, or 7 pieces. Use code WILLOW for up to 50% off your first month.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. It should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions or problems. Please contact your healthcare provider with questions or concerns.
Which pump is right for you?
Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

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